MANY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE HAD ALREADY PLANNED TO ABANDON THE GOP EVEN BEFORE FOLEY SCANDAL BROKE-- HOW WILL DISAPPEARING "GOD GAP" PLAY OUT IN IN & KY?
Before I wrote the story about waterboarding Cheney and Rumsfeld and Katherine Harris yesterday, I mentioned something about marching out of our houses to vote with pure love in our hearts. Let's keep that one in mind today; the waterboarding crap's not gonna happen to them anyway-- just to people like us if they get to keep and expand their power. And whether you believe in God or not, just remember, He's totally on our side on this whole thing.
Above and beyond making it clear-- even to those in deepest, darkest Dumfuckostan-- that Republicans take bribes, lie about our national security, molest little boys, construct their very lives around hypocrisy, and are utterly unfit to hold public office, God has been busy closing the so-called "God Gap."
According to a report issued by People For the American Way, the American Values Survey, the "God Gap" is the supposed lock Republicans have had on the nation's most observant religious voters. And that report makes it clear that that supposition was crumbling even before the Foley scandal and the attendant Republican cover-up. The study, the largest survey on religion, values and politics conducted in the past two years, documents stunning declines for Republican candidates across all groups of religious voters compared to the level of support given President Bush in 2004.
Among voters who frequently attend religious services (at least once a week), the "God gap"-- the recent trend that culminated in a massive 22-point Republican advantage in 2004-- had virtually disappeared in our August survey, with equal numbers reporting plans to vote for Republican and Democratic candidates in 2006. Among those who attend religious services once a month, where Bush slightly edged out Kerry by two points in 2004 (51% to 49%), Democrats held a commanding 28-point lead. White evangelicals, 78% of whom voted for Bush, had moved away from the GOP at a double-digit clip by August, with only 52 percent supporting Republican candidates, a 26-point drop, though two-thirds of those abandoning the GOP had not embraced Democratic candidates and may return to the Republican fold on Election Day. Even traditionalist evangelicals, a group that voted a remarkable 88% for Bush in 2004, had dropped nearly 30 percentage points to a 59 percent support for Republican candidates.
The survey makes it completely clear that religionist right leaders like Tony Perkins, Ted Haggard, Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, etc are speaking out of their asses when they claim that voters who care about values share their own mania and obsessions and view politics as primarily a means to restrict abortion, prevent gay couples from getting married and push a partisan GOP agenda. "In fact, the vast majority of Americans, including most evangelical Christians, have something else on their mind when they think about voting their values. When people were asked what they primarily have in mind when they think about voting their values, 39% of respondents said it was the honesty and integrity of the candidate; 23% said it was protecting personal freedoms and individual choices; 21% said eliminating poverty and guaranteeing access to health care. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman was selected by only 9% of Americans; working to restrict access to abortion was selected by only 3%."
In fact, when the 2006 midterm elections were the context of questions, "values voters," when asked to choose from a list of issues which will be most important in deciding their vote, chose abortion and gay marriage last, with only 5 % naming them most important for determining their vote. Jobs and the economy was the top vote-getter, with the war in Iraq and national security and terrorism concerns next in line. In fact, when asked to chose between issues like ending poverty and affordable health care versus abortion and same-sex marriage, only 12% went with the extremist leaders; 85% made the same choices everyone would make-- for fighting poverty and establishing affordable health care and even among evangelicals 75% thought the economic issues were more pressing and more important to them than the abortion/gay marriage meme.
The large pluralities who think about voting their values in the context of candidates' honesty and integrity--and the spate of corruption scandals involving Republican elected officials--may also help explain the shift. Moreover, Evangelicals in August-- pre-Foley-- were just as disillusioned with the direction of the country as the general public: 68% of Evangelicals said that things in the country were on the wrong track compared to 69% of the public.
The first polls that close today will be in two states that traditionally discourage voter participation, Indiana and Kentucky. Polls in the eastern parts of both states at 6PM, making it more difficult for working people to vote. Both states have been very red and even Democrats tend to be conservative, like Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, if not down right reactionary like the Democrat running in Kentucky's second congressional district, Mike Weaver (a rabid and vicious homophobe). Evangelical and self-identified values voters have been powerful in both states.
The clearest indication of how tonight will turn out is to watch Kentucky's 2nd, 3rd and 4th CDs and Indiana's 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th and 9th CDs. All 8 districts have rubber stamp Republican incumbents. In Kentucky the Louisville metro area is represented by a not very impressive Anne Northup. Polls show a genuine progressive, John Yarmuth, beating her. Kentucky's 2nd and 4th are represented by far right extremists, Ron Lewis and Geoff Davis, and their Democratic challengers are about as far from progressive are still able to claim, with a straight face, to be a Democrat, Mike Weaver and Ken Lucas. If Kentuckians chose these two, it's just because they have had enough of the Republicans and it will be a signal that nationally the GOP can expect a catastrophic night across the country.
Indiana has 9 congressional districts and 7 of those are represented by Republicans. It is widely expected that that will change drastically this evening. Mostly like to face defeat are far right fanatics Chris Chocola (IN-02), John Hosteteller (IN-08) and Michael Sodrel (IN-09). If the 3 are defeated, it will signal definitively that values voters are indeed abandoning the Republicans. It will also signal that the Democrats are on their way to a 30 seat sweep. Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill are the 3 conservative Democrats contesting those seats. Less vulnerable, but not out of danger, are Mark Souder (IN-03) and Mike Pence (IN-06). If Tom Hayhurst beats Souder expect to see Republican loses in the 40's nationally. If Barry Welsh, the only actual progressive in the Indiana races, beats Mike Pence (who is not just a right wing extremist but also an up and coming GOP congressional leader) expect complete Republican disintegration tonight with losses beyond 50 seats.
By 3 PM on the West Coast we should start getting the early indications about how much of a rout the Republicans will suffer today. If you see Democrats like Tom Hayhurst and Barry Welsh doing well, the results in California will go well beyond Dirty Dick Pombo and could very well sweep away right wing garbage like John Doolittle, Buck McKeon and Mary Bono.